By Tim Leeds
Thirteen dedicated students today braved slippery snow-packed roads to learn photographic techniques at the "Photography -- Painting with Light" class at MSU-Northern.
The class, taught by University Relations director Jim Potter, met at Donaldson Commons on the university campus as part of the Cabin Fever 2000 program.
Students preparing for today's class said they were happy they had taken it. Ruth Hartman and Lucy Pettapiece, both from Cascade, said it was worth the trip, even on icy roads.
"It's very good. He's a good instructor," said Hartman.
"I've always been interested in photography," Pettapiece said. "I'm interested to see some of (Potter's) work."
Jodi Duvall of Geraldine said she's always been interested in photography and wanted to learn more about it. She said she's very impressed with the class.
"It's interesting, but he makes it fun, too." Duvall said. "It's just little things you never knew and were afraid to ask, like aperture and exposure, to help sharpen the image and so on."
Area farmer Herb Vasseur said he's happy with the class. He takes a couple of classes every year from the program, he said.
"If you don't take the classes, you don't support the program," Vasseur said. "If you want to keep the program, you have to take the classes."
Potter said this is the second year the photography course has been offered. The course was held Wednesday and today this week.
Potter said he teaches students the 10 basic elements required to take good photographs, such as lighting, exposure, composition and type of film in the photography class.
In the morning, Potter said he covers the theoretical side of the class. He said he uses a Polaroid camera to show the effects of changing the elements studied, taking one photo, passing it around, changing some elements, then taking another to pass around and show the changes.
Then in the afternoon, the students will be sent out to take some photos of their own and apply the theories to their own work. At the end of the class, there will be a photography competition between the students.
All 10 elements taught in the theoretical part of the class have to be in place before great photographs can be taken, Potter said. Once the photogra-pher has control over the elements, great photos become easier to take.
Potter said that the 10 elements really have nothing to do with the camera used. Once the photographer has control of the elements, quality photos can be taken with even an inexpensive camera.
Potter has extensive experience in photography.
He said that he started taking photos for a local paper when he was in the sixth grade, and worked for several Detroit area papers in high school, including the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. He also worked with an editor for National Geographic before graduating high school. "Photography is a love for me," he said. "I view it as an art. When I click a picture, it's like painting."
Potter himself has many cameras, which he compares to an artists' supply of various paintbrushes. Just as an artist can get different effects with different brushes, a photographer can achieve different effects with different cameras, he said.
Cabin Fever, now in its seventh year, is intended to provide a variety of short classes in key topics people in the community are interested in, Potter said. Eighty classes were offered this year by Montana State University-Northern in cooperation with local Extension Service Offices to interested area residents.
The program recruits a variety of instructors for the classes including local teachers and experts in their fields from in and outside of the community. The program continues to grow, with more classes being offered and increasing enrollment, Potter said.